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According to Russ Kick in his book “50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know” the most famous nineteenth-century feminist, Susan B. Anthony, referred to abortion as “the horrible crime of child-murder.” And that’s just for starters. She also called it “this most monstrous crime” and “evil.” Surprisingly, given that unsparing language, she didn’t believe that it should be made illegal.

Responding to an article in which a man called for the outlawing of abortion, Anthony wrote, “Much as I deplore the horrible crime of child-murder, earnestly as I desire its suppression, I cannot believe with the writer of the above article, that such a law would have the desired effect. It seems to be only mowing off the top of the noxious weed, while the root remains.”

The root, she believed, was the horrible way in which women were treated. These pioneering women felt that abortion was the product of a social system that compelled women to remain ignorant about their bodies, that enabled men to dominate then sexually without taking responsibility for the consequences, and that placed far more value on a child’s legitimacy than on his or her life and well-being.